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Harper Macleod backing CREATE's Highlands and Islands Business Competition 2020 - entries now open!

Harper Macleod is once again proud to support the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Business Competition - which this year has a record prize pot of £8500 up for grabs.

Entries now open for the 2020 competition, with budding entrepreneurs invited to apply for the chance to win cash and receive support from some of the region’s top entrepreneurs and business advisers to turn their ideas into a reality.

Run by CREATE, the University of Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Enterprise and Innovation based at Inverness College UHI, the Business Competition is now in its 14th year and supports and encourages people to take their first steps on the road to starting their own business.

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Chris Kerr, Partner at Harper Macleod LLP, said: “This competition has always been a brilliant way to encourage entrepreneurs and innovation in the region. Over more than a decade that we’ve been involved, the standard of entries has continually increased and we are always bowled over by the breadth and depth of ideas. As an entrepreneurial business ourselves, with a vast amount of experience in advising and helping entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses, we are thrilled to be involved once again and look forward to helping some of the finalists use this experience as a platform to take their ideas even further and turn them into a business reality.”

The competition is open to all students studying across the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership, as well as non-students living in the Highlands & Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

Entries will be shortlisted to 15 and finalists will be invited to meet the competition judges to discuss their idea further on finals day at Inverness College UHI on 12th February. This year’s competition includes special cash prizes for business ideas from engineering students.

Last year’s competition attracted more than 110 entries, with the top prize going to Shetland College UHI student Stephenie Pagulayan (35) and her ALICE Theatre Project, a social enterprise providing opportunity for young people to be creative in devising and performing theatre.

Stephenie, who took home a cash prize of £1000 and a combined legal and accountancy package worth £2000, said: “The University of the Highlands and Islands’ Business Competition was a catalyst to help the ALICE Theatre Project become the established, successful business it is today. It was invaluable in helping me to take the huge step towards achieving my dreams of running my own company. CREATE also provided the steppingstone into further competitions, support and training and provided both me and my business with credibility as we move forward in our development”.

Colin Cannon, an Inverness College UHI HND Engineering student, was a 2018 finalist with his business, Inverness Food and Drink Tours Ltd. He is urging anyone with an idea to apply.

He said: “The process is simple and there’s no business plan required – the application form is short, easy and not at all intimidating. The support you get in return is invaluable and allows you to take the first steps to realising your ideas. Since winning the best culture and environment prize, I have secured a limited company and working relationships with great local businesses. I received an accountancy package, which together with a cash injection, assisted me in developing my business and realising its potential. The hard work must come from you, but the business awards are a fantastic platform for sharing your ideas and realising your own potential.”

Georgina Parker, director of external relations at Inverness College UHI, said: “The University of the Highlands and Islands’ Business Competition encourages people to be innovative, creative and to think outside the box. Often people have an idea, but they don’t know what to do with it, or who to turn to for help. That’s where we come in. As mentors, our CREATE team will work with finalists to help develop their entrepreneurial flair, realise the full potential of their business idea and identify opportunities for growth. Once again, we’d like to thank our generous partners. This competition and the journeys it enables and inspires for so many would not be possible without their invaluable support.”

This year’s competition has an additional focus on engineering, thanks to sponsorship by Engineers in Business Fellowship (EIBF), a charity that promotes the importance and value of business education for engineers.

In addition, the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Business Competition continues to receive invaluable sponsorship and start-up support from Harper Macleod LLP and Johnston Carmichael. Sponsorship also comes from The Apprentice Store, Business Gateway, Essence of Harris, Impact Hub Inverness and Impact 30.

The University of the Highlands and Islands’ Business Competition has attracted more than 1400 entries since it launched 14 years ago and has awarded more than £70,000 in cash prizes.

Apply online by 12 January 2020.

Enter the Business Competition